*5.02-STRANGE DAYS (Doors)



Strange days have found us.
Strange days have tracked us down.
They're going to destroy
Our casual joys.
We shall go on playing
Or find a new town.

Strange eyes fill strange rooms.
Voices will signal their tired end.
The hostess is grinning.
Her guests sleep from sinning.
Hear me talk of sin
And you know this is it!

Strange days have found us
And through their strange hours
We linger alone.
Bodies confused,
Memories misused,
As we run from the day
To a strange night of stone.

Strange Days is the introduction song to the album of the same name, but where Break on Through (To the Other Side) had promised new perceptions at the opening of the Door’s first album, Strange Days warns that when you get to the “other side”, reality becomes warped. There’s a persecution complex going on, a paranoia, in these lyrics, a sentiment that has been rare in psychedelic lyrics. The funhouse of alternative consciousness is beginning to have some ominous contours. Rarely had sin been subject matter of a pop lyric without a bit of comedic irony, but here it appears as if the song is sung after a debauch. Strange Days seems to be about (perhaps sexual) acts that will not stand the light of day, but must be experienced “stoned”, with senses deranged. The song shares in a consciousness similar to Rimbaud’s in the Drunken Boat.

The song has a brief falling and swirling keyboard introduction. Ray Manzarek keeps the keyboards roiling expertly during the verses, but everything becomes static and heavy between, with only the bass guitar adding variety during these breaks. Each orderly verse is muddled by an echo effect that makes some of the words difficult to hear. As an introduction to the album, I suspect that this distortion of Morrison’s voice, as if singing through a megaphone underwater, might have begun to swing popular opinion against psychedelic engineering, the mysterious and miraculous having become perceived as merely weird effects. The echo effect may have affected critics who generally panned the album at the time for its aural trickery. During the months that followed, more and more technical effects began to strike the ear as less a matter of discovering uncharted territory and sound rather more like poor imitations of something already achieved. However, much of the Strange Days album does contain fresh technical discoveries. Ray Manzarek has pointed out in the book No One Here Gets Out Alive (by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman, p.128) that a Moog synthesizer was used for the first time in pop on this cut, though the results are unclear. The song ends abruptly in a sudden climax, with heavy vocal and instrumental emphasis on the word “stone”. In this song, Dylan's Everybody must get stoned has become more like Medusa's curse.